Report questions "uncertain" benefit of flood management spending cuts

5th November 2014


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Central government ,
  • Adaptation

Author

IEMA

Cuts in funding for flood defences have been slammed by the government's spending watchdog, which warned they could increase the need for emergency spending in the future.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has scrutinised the government’s current approach to funding flood defence.

In its report, the NAO said that the government made an extra £270 million available following last winter’s storms, which included an additional £35 million for asset maintenance in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.

This has restored maintenance funding to 2010-11 levels in cash terms, it said. However, this represents a real terms decrease of 6% between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

The advisory body questioned the long-term benefit of costing out flood defence management for lower risk areas. The government’s process of benefit-to-cost analysis and consequent prioritisation of flood defences risks 50% of flood protection assets and allows defences in lower priority areas to deteriorate and depreciate, the NAO says.

Although these measures cut costs in the short term, the NAO has questioned the strategy’s efficacy and sustainability, as well as its overall cost. The future risk of floods and the potential need for more “expensive ad hoc emergency solutions”, as seen in the extra £270 million made available by the government following the 2013 winter storms, could increase because of the decision to prioritise funds away from maintenance, it warned.

“The achievement of value for money in the long term remains significantly uncertain,” said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office.

MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts, similarly questioned the government’s short-term approach. She expressed her ‘deep concern’ over the current levels of spending on the maintenance of flood management, and the lack of value for money in the long-term.

Defra challenged the findings of the report, announcing that the NAO’s conclusions on funding were based on “inappropriate comparisons”.

In a statement, the department said: “The NAO compares two financial years (10/11 compared to either 13/14 or 14/15) rather than looking at the total amount we have spent over this parliament. This parliament will see a 5% real-term increase in flood spending, compared with the previous parliament.

“Not only are we spending more than ever before…but next month, we will set out the first ever six-year programme with record levels of investment, which will protect another 300,000 homes by the end of the decade.”

The committee on climate change said the NAO's findings backed up its report on adaptation, published in the summer. Each £1 not invested means communities will suffer up to £8 in unnecessary flood damage, it said.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close